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Posts Tagged ‘International cuisine’

If you read my previous post on Sabzeh, you might be interested in the history behind this celebration. A very detailed explanation of the celebration as experienced in Persia (Iran) is found in a great cookbook, entitled New Food Of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, by Najmieh Batmanglij. You can find this on pages 403-408 in the 2008 edition. This is a beautiful book with enticing photos of the prepared food AND ancient Persian art. The book jacket describes the book as “a treasure of 250 classical and regional Iranian recipes. 120 color photographs of food intertwined with Persian miniatures and illustrations together with descriptions of ancient and modern ceremonies make New Food of Life not just a collection of excellent recipes but also an introduction to Persian art and culture.”

The book is lovely and interesting enough to be a coffee table book, especially for foodies, travelers and art historians.

I didn’t buy the book for any of those reasons though. I bought it to explore a cuisine I could cook for my husband who is allergic to wheat. Very few of the recipes use wheat; there is much more use of rice. So if you or a family member have issues with wheat, you might explore Persian cuisine. I’m sure there are other good cookbooks out there. I’m just familiar with this one and it is available in Barnes and Noble  stores. The author does a good job of addressing the issue of specialty ingredients. Compared to Indian cuisine, I think the Persian recipes call for fewer exotic ingredients. Still, you will need access to a middle Eastern grocery store for some of the ingredients. Helpfully, the author includes a list of specialty stores by state and city in the back of the book. The one I explored in Houston, Phoenicia Supermarket on Westheimer, was a true delight to visit. They supply ingredients for many middle eastern cuisines as well as cooking supplies, books, carryout, and a dining area.  It’s a great place to explore.

Naw Ruz being March 21, I wish you Happy Naw Ruz!

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avocadoPico de gallo, taco salad, tacos… all are more delicious made with perfectly ripe, firm cubes of avocado.

How to prepare the avocado:

De-pitting: I hope you don’t take a knife and try to “peel” an avocado. That would be dangerous and wasteful.  There is a much easier way. Cut the avocado in half from end to end (not through the “equator,” so to speak). Take a very sharp knife and deal a sharp blow with the sharp edge of the knife to the avocado pit. Please don’t be holding the avocado in your hand when you do this. It takes some practice to actually hit the pit. Trust me, you don’t want to hit the palm of your hand with the knife blade. Once the knife blade is wedged in the avocado pit, holding the avocado half in your hand, twist the knife blade to either side. The pit should dislodge, leaving all that delicious avocado flesh.

Peeling: If you have a recipe that calls for an intact half avocado, there is an easy way to remove the skin now. Take a teaspoon and slip it under the flesh of the avocado, right next to the skin and rotate around the flesh of the half avocado, staying as close to the skin as possible. You should be able to scoop out in one piece almost all of the avocado flesh, wasting hardly anything.

Cubing: Your recipe might, however, call for cubed or chopped avocado. A very simple way to uniformly cube the avocado without crushing or smashing it is to do the cubing in the skin before you remove the flesh from the skin. So instead of using a teaspoon to remove the flesh after the pit has been extracted, leave the flesh of the half avocado in the skin.  Holding the avocado in the palm of your hand, with a small, sharp knife, make parallel cuts lengthwise about every 1/4 inch completely across the width of the avocado. Be care to not pierce the skin of the avocado. Think of the avocado skin as a bowl you are slicing against. Now make parallel cuts crosswise about every 1/4 inch completely across the length of the avocado. Now when you take your teaspoon to scoop out the flesh, it will be pre-cubed and ready for your recipe.

And if you want my recommendation of the best guacamole in Texas, it is served at Boudros’ in San Antonio, on the Riverwalk. They bring the ingredients to your table and prepare in front of you. Their unique ingredient is orange juice.

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Did you watch the news story on TV or read the New York Times story about the dubbawallas in Mumbai India who deliver thousands of meals to business workers in tins called “tiffins.”  The dubbawallas pick up the lunches prepared by someone at home, transport the tiffins by train to downtown Mumbai, deliver the tiffins to the business person, and then pick up the tiffin and take the train again to return it to the person who prepared the food that morning. All without the Internet!dubbawallatiffin

The tin or tiffin carrier typically has 2 or 3 compartments with latches to keep everything closed and contained. It is made of steel. You can buy them online by searching for tiffin boxes or tiffin carriers. These would make a great substitute to the plastic containers people take their lunch to work in here.

Next time you are in the mood for some international cuisine, why not have a Tiffin Party. Have a tiffin ready for each guest to take home some of the leftovers and be prepared to have a sumptuous amount of food available. If you love to cook, then prepare it yourself, but if not, carryout will delight your guests just as well. Obviously Indian cuisine would be appropriate, as would Thai and Chinese. Your guests will remember the occasion every time they use their new eco-friendly lunch box, the tiffin!

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